Dog advocates pitching 7 new off-leash areas in Steamboat | SteamboatToday.com

Dog advocates pitching 7 new off-leash areas in Steamboat

Scott Franz

John Waldman plays a game of fetch with Luna in Rita Valentine Park. Before it became a cherished piece of open space, the 40 acres that make up the park originally was going to be part of a subdivision.

— Steamboat Springs dog advocates are hoping to get several treats Wednesday night from the city's Parks and Recreation Commission.

The commissioners will weigh proposals to start adding more dog-related amenities to Rita Valentine Park, add compostable dog poop bags into the city budget and allow dogs to be off leash at seven additional parks and trails in the city.

New off-leash areas proposed by Steamboat Digs Dogs include parts of Whistler Park, River Creek Park, Fetcher Park, Stehly Park, the Gas Line Meadow areas of Emerald Mountain, Spring Creek Trail and Blackmer Drive Trail.

But the city's parks department thinks it might be best to start smaller than this list.

Parks officials also have expressed some concern about the potential for off-leash dogs to interfere with sports activities at Whistler.

Parks and Community Services Director John Overstreet said the department suggested the city start with just one or two parks and a trail and see how the addition of new off-leash areas play out.

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He also noted that the city is about to embark on a new master plan for its parks, and new off-leash areas could be identified through that planning process.

"Then it would be part of a master plan, and we could get some grant funding," he said.

While the Rita Valentine Park proposal would need a second round of approvals from the Steamboat Springs City Council, the new off-leash areas could be approved on a temporary basis by a vote of the Parks and Recreation Commission.

At Rita Valentine, Steamboat Digs Dogs is proposing to improve the parking area, add a second entrance and fence a dog play area, among other improvements.

The project would also include the addition of a water source and new donated trees and bushes.

The meeting to discuss the proposals starts at 5:30 p.m.

Steamboat Digs Dogs was born last out of a grassroots movement that expressed opposition to the ramped up leash law enforcement in the city.

The group is now looking to make improvements in the city that will give dog owners more places to legally play with their pets off leash.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10